Friday, December 11, 2015

The Girls of the UFC

Putting women into the ring is nothing new, but with the UFC format it has taken on a new level of viciousness, previously only hinted at in the faux fights of World Wrestling Entertainment.  I admit I'm drawn to it, but it makes me cringe at the same time.  I probably shouldn't worry as these "girls" are well trained, coming from boxing or some form of competitive martial arts.  But, the UFC is basically an anything-goes format, which includes choke holds, and brutal kicks like this one Holly Holm laid on Ronda Rousey in route to her upset victory.  That kick has since gone viral.

When two strawweight girls stepped into the UFC octagon last night, it took on a level of titillation given that Paige Van Zant has become America's sweetheart.  She's only 21, barely old enough to drink. She started out in ballet and switched to martial arts in high school to defend herself against bullies, according to her bio.  She goes by "12 Gauge," a nickname bestowed upon her by her father.  Both weighed in wearing skimpy little bikinis, so as to keep to the 115 lb. (52 kg.) limit I guess, but opted for spandex in the ring.  Paige's flexibility is her calling card but it proved insufficient to stop "Thug Rose," slightly her senior at 23, who opted for a crew cut to give her a more menacing look.  Before that Rose Namajunas looked like the girl next door.

It was sad to see Paige all bloodied and bruised afterward.  By round five it was clear she couldn't take anymore and the referee mercifully called an end to the fight.  For all its rawness, mixed martial arts fighting has proven to be a relatively safe sport.  These girls recover pretty quickly and are right back in the octagon.  Ronda is apparently taking a little longer to recover, mostly because her ego took a big hit, as she had previously been considered invincible.  She even challenged Floyd Mayweather to a fight.

Ronda had been the biggest UFC celebrity prior to her fight with Holly Holm.  Even Donald Trump was calling her out on the campaign trail, much to her chagrin.  Ronda said she had no time for Donald and was voting for Bernie.  Being a poor sport, Donald joined in all the hate being heaped on Ronda after her loss, tweeting "Glad to see @RondaRousey lost her championship fight last night.  Was soundly beaten - not a nice person!"  No one crosses the Donald, not even Ronda.  Floyd Mayweather proved to be the bigger man here, by offering support to Ronda and help train her for her next fight.

Somehow, you don't get too worried about Ronda or Holly.  At 28 and 34 respectively, these are tough women who obviously can take care of themselves.  Holly had a distinguished career as a boxer before switching to mixed martial arts fighting, which has much bigger pay days and endorsements.  Women's boxing has faded ever since its biggest names retired, like Laila Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali.  Here's a montage of her career.  She retired undefeated.

Still, there is the beauty factor.  You don't see the UFC promoting unattractive women.  They will probably ask Rose to grow her hair out again, even if a crew cut is more manageable in the ring.  She can plait  it into corn rows as the other girls do for the fights.  After all, the UFC has an image to protect.

I'd like to say these women have come a long way, but I wonder.  Holly Holm has little time to savor her victory before having to go in the ring again with Ronda Rousey, because this is what Dana White and the UFC audience demand to see.   These binding contracts avoid the problem the various boxing federations have controlling its' title matches, other than stripping a title, like the IBF did Tyson Fury for refusing to fight its mandatory challenger next.  No worry, Fury has at least three other titles thanks to his victory over Klitschko earlier this month.

In the UFC, a fighter, man or woman, has no choice but to fight the opponents the promotion company mandates, otherwise go find another mixed martial arts syndicate.  But, no other MMA syndicate offers anywhere near the level of exposure and pay outs as the UFC.  which gets to pocket much of the profits itself, thanks in part to fetching beauties like Paige Van Zant and Rose Namajunas, and super women like Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm.

Women currently get the most attention in the UFC, yet see relatively small payments.  At most, Holly got $330,000 for her fight with Ronda.  By contrast, Ronda stands to make $5 million thanks to her cut in Pay-Per-View revenues because she had become the UFC top draw.  As her stature rose over the last couple years, UFC was forced to renegotiate her contract, but now that she has lost, she will probably see her revenues fall.  Despite her victory, it is doubtful Holly will see anywhere near the same amount of money Ronda gets for a fight, even if she beats her again.  More likely, UFC will cultivate Paige or Rose as its next big star, given their youthful appeal.

1 comment:

  1. it's good to see girls fighting for some big buck$ ~ they deserve it

    As for Ronda, unfortunately, she was not fully prepared for a fight against a lefty and was vulnerable to left hand/foot shots. She was out cold within minutes and will take six months to recover.

    Wishing her well & hope to see her back in the cage real soon.